Lego's Mindstrorms series has long since been the king of programmable robotics kits for kids. They aren't always the easiest such kits to use, though. Ubtech thinks it may have something simpler, with its Jimu robot.
Jimu, which happens to be the Mandarin word for "building block," is a series of robotics kits for ages eight and up. At first glance, it resembles a Lego Mindstorms set, and it operates under a similar premise—snap interlocking parts together to build a robot, then use a companion app to program your creation. You can follow the instructions and build one of the template models, or you can assemble something completely new—it's entirely up to you.
To program your robot, connect it to your Android or iOS device via Bluetooth, launch the Jimu app, then get down to business. Or play. Whichever.
As we learned during a demo at CES, the Jimu robot looks to be extremely simple to program: Press a record button in the app, then move your robot to the position you want it to assume. You can string together a series of these movements to make your robot wave its arms, perform a dance, or do whatever you want it to do.
Ubtech offers four Jimu kits ranging in price from $99 to $499. They'll ship sometime during the first quarter of this year and will be available for purchase through Amazon.